This year’s July 4th holiday was a special one for planetary science, as the NASA spacecraft Juno, entered the dense atmosphere of our solar system’s giant, Jupiter. After 5 years and traveling nearly 550 million miles, Juno reached Jupiter at nearly 130,000 miles per hour, poised to orbit the planet 32 times, gathering unprecedented data on Jupiter’s atmosphere, magnetic, and gravitational fields, all lending clues to how it formed about 4.57 billion years ago.
Artistic rendering of Juno entering Jupiter’s orbit (Credit: NASA).
Scientists think that Jupiter may have been the first planet to form from the swirling disk of gas and dust from which Earth and the other 6 planets formed, as well as the asteroids, comets, and other debris that makes up our current solar system. Juno’s science will help unravel the detailed composition of Jupiter’s atmosphere which hold clues to its formation history, including how and where it…
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